“The CFL and TSN don’t care about Calgary!” – Kanye West, if he were a Stampeders fan.
For the second straight week, the Calgary Stampeders were left off of the TSN preseason schedule and their game against the Edmonton Elks went untelevised. This was on the heels of a game in Calgary last week against the Lions that had nary a camera in sight from the league’s broadcast partner.
Given the CFL produced a schedule that featured four games on Friday night, one might forgive the network for choosing a Riders’ away game and a game featuring teams from both Ontario and Quebec to make the airwaves over the Battle of Alberta.
Last week, however, there were just two Saturday games and no excuse not to show both.
I know there are those who will suggest that preseason football isn’t much worth watching, especially when the Stampeders chose to send a squad of rookies and backups up the highway and kept most of the notable names at home. But in a league with just three or four games a week, anything that goes untelevised should be considered unacceptable.
All that is to say I didn’t get to watch the game and, like most of you, am relying on the stats, my Twitter feed, and the reactions from those in the stadium to tell what happened as the Stampeders put on an absolute clinic for the second straight week, winning 37-7 over the rival Elks.
Here are the five most important things to glean from last night’s stat sheet:
Tommy Stevens may be the new Chris Streveler
Tommy Stevens is a giant of a human being in the quarterback room of the Calgary Stampeders, standing at six-foot-five and 245 pounds. The next biggest passer is Bo Levi Mitchell, listed at six-foot-two and 198 pounds.
Stevens will likely be the short-yardage specialist for the Stampeders this year but he showed what else he can do with legs last night, rushing for 61 yards on six carries in the first half including two QB sneaks. One went for a touchdown and the other was successfully converted for a first down.
He didn’t do much with his arm, going just one-for-eight for six yards, but that is what brought the Streveler comparison to mind. The former Bombers backup wasn’t known as a magnificent passer by any stretch but once he got the ball in his hands, he could hurt you.
It might be interesting to see what packages the Stamps could put together with Stevens in a backfield with Ka’Deem Carey and Dedrick Mills.
Stevens’ best play of the night came on a 41-yard scamper down the sidelines in the second quarter, where he was able to physically transform his body into that of a horse. At least that’s how I’m choosing to imagine it given that, again, the game wasn’t televised.
Dedrick Mills is a bad, bad man
The Calgary Stampeders have found a stud in Dedrick Mills. The Nebraska product went off against the Elks’ defence last night, racking up 108 yards on just eight carries and breaking free for a 67-yard jaunt down the field. Mills would score two touchdowns on the evening as well.
Last year, the Stampeders would spell Ka’Deem Carey with Ante Milanovic-Litre with little to no success. If Mills can provide productive yards with regularity and allow Carey to see more rest, the Stampeders’ offence just got a lot more dangerous.
During his 67-yard run, he broke 18 different tackles before being brought down at the three. At least that’s how I’m choosing to imagine it given that, again, the game wasn’t televised.
Brent Monson is a filthy wizard
The Calgary Stampeders have played two full preseason games and have allowed fewer plays inside the green zone than they have total points. In fact, they didn’t allow the B.C. Lions a single play inside the green zone for that entire game and kept the Elks out until late in the fourth quarter.
The Stampeders’ defence has seen only two plays inside the 20-yard line through two preseason games against division rivals and the Elks only got there because of a pass interference call against Calgary.
I know there is always skepticism when declaring a “preseason champion” but the Stampeders have allowed fewer points in both games combined than any other defence gave up in any single exhibition game this year.
Defensive coordinator Brent Monson is making the Stamps’ defence look like they have extra players on the field and they just might have! At least that’s how I’m choosing to imagine it given that, again, the game wasn’t televised.
Mark Kilam is even filthier than Monson
You can now chalk up three punt blocks for Mark Kilam’s special teams crew in two preseason games, as the bouncy-haired savant continues to have his squad performing at a high level.
I’m not sure what sort of spell Kilam is casting from the sidelines either, but opposition kickers have missed every single field goal and convert attempt against the Stampeders so far, while Keiran Burnham is a perfect 5-for-5 on field goals and 9-for-9 on converts.
Burnham was stashed on the practice roster last year and the Stampeders certainly see him as the kicker of the future. It has been widely speculated that Rene Paredes will be looking to retire sooner rather than later and is taking his career one year at a time right now.
The most impressive of all of Burnham’s kicks came in the fourth quarter, when he somersaulted on his way to smashing a 49-yarder. At least that’s how I’m choosing to imagine it given that, again, the game wasn’t televised.
Jake Maier looks solid again
Maier went six-of-seven passing for 61 yards last night and really didn’t look to push the ball downfield at all, with most of his passes in the eight-to-nine-yard range for depth of target.
His longest completion was an 18-yard after-the-catch effort from Tyson Middlemost. His lone incompletion was a toss towards Richie Sindani that ended up being the last pass thrown by Maier on the day.
In previous seasons, much was made about the health of Bo Levi Mitchell being critical to the success of the Stamps. The more I see of Maier, the more I am reminded of the QB factory years in the ’90s when Doug Flutie, Jeff Garcia, Dave Dickenson, and Henry Burris followed each other onto the field. The results are obviously not there yet for that comparison, but Stamps fans certainly feel comfortable knowing Maier is in the building should Mitchell get hurt again.
Maier’s best play of the night was just a nine-yard pass to Dedrick Mills on the stat sheet but considering he ran back nearly 60 yards to the Stampeders’ goal-line to avoid the sack, before heaving it down the field to Mills at the original line of scrimmage, that’s not bad at all! At least that’s how I’m choosing to imagine it given that, again, the game wasn’t televised.
(Bonus thought!) I know it’s preseason but…
Calgary has had the two lowest points allowed totals and also the two highest offensive point totals.
That is tempered, of course, by the overall lack of starters playing in these games but they have made both the Lions and Elks look silly with a pair of routs.
I made a wager with 3DownNation editor John Hodge this week on the Stampeders’ win total being +10.5 and I’m feeling pretty solid after the opening looks. For what it is worth, the bet involves a donation to the winner’s charity of choice and (thanks to autocorrect) a beet to be purchased at Grey Cup in Regina.